Our trip in Japan was one of the most exciting ones I've ever done. The country offer everything from beautiful Japanese gardens with millions of cherry blossoms on the trees, delicious food, interesting temples, skycrapers, picturesque villages and peaceful Ryokans (traditional Japanese spa hotels) up in the mountaines. Along with historical sites like the memorial of the atomic bomb, castles and manga-animé quarters with everything that comes with that lifestyle.

Many of you have asked me for my best piece of advice for a totally wonderful stay in Japan, so here it comes, my compilation to you. Enjoy, and wishing you a just as lovely stay as we had!

How long? We stayed for a total of 11 days, plus the approximately 20 hours it took to fly to/from Japan from Brussels. It was just about the right amount of time to spend there, because after too many weeks of travelling non-stop my sightseeing quota gets filled and everything looks a bit the same to me. During our 11 days we visited Tokyo-Magome-Tsumago-Kanazawa-Kyoto-Hiroshima-Miyajima. Shirakawa and Takayama was also on our list, but we simply didn't have time for them.

Safety: Japan is the safest country I've ever been to, making it possible to travel also as a solo girl if you wish, without any problems. People are timid and will not really approach you unless you ask for help. Still I wouldn't take any stupid risks like walking on my own at night.

Money and prices: There are ATMs everywhere and you can pay by card in hotels and malls while almost never at museums, restaurants and metros. While the flights to Japan are reasonable (we flew with Etihad Airways), it's very expensive to stay in the country. Think London-New York or Stockholm. Accomodation prices ranged between 120-350 euros per night (the most expensive was the Ryokan, but it was only for one night with a 16 course dinner plus breakfast included, and definitely worth it, see more info below), dinner costs between 10-40 euros and the railway pass for a week costed nearly 300 euros. We mostly got take away lunch at supermakets and that was reasonable priced. Metro tickets in Kyoto and Tokyo are expensive and shopping is very expensive as well, while entrances to museums and parks are either free or costing about 5 euros. I would say it's a country well worth the money, and you shouldn't be on a too strict budget when visiting it.

Transport: Ahead of our trip we bought the Japan Rail Pass at a travel agency in Brussels. You need to buy them before entering the country, and exchange the voucher to the actual pass at the airport. Here it gets expensive. You pay for a week, two weeks etc. but once you have the pass you can travel unlimited with it. Since single tickets are even more expensive, those passes are a must. And you certainly get what you pay for - the trains are super fast and always on time! Metro cards in Tokyo are well worth it, because the transportation system is perfect, taking you everywhere in very little time. In Kyoto it was much more difficult, since they have metros, busses and trams, where you need to get separate tickets for them all. Try to plan you days so that you just need to use one of the different transportation systems per day, otherwise it gets very expensive.

Internet: it was not so common to have internet in cafés and restaurants, while all museums, Airbnbs and hotels have it.

Sending luggage: One of the absolutely best services of the Japanses high tech society was the Takuhaibin delivery system that you find in all SevenEleven shops (they are everywhere) plus hotels. We used it to send our luggage from Tokyo to our hotel in Kanazawa, leaving us with just a backpack for our hike in the mountains, and night at the Ryokan. Sending the luggage was very smooth and cheap, and it saved us a lot of logistical trouble.

Shopping: While they do have lots of fashionable shops, the fashion is so different from the European style (and much smaller sizes), that I found it difficult to find my souvenir dress (but I managed in the end!). My best piece of advice is to go to the huge 8 storey mall of Kyoto train station (where we got our iron tea pot and my souvenir dress), or the one at the Shibuya station in Tokyo. You do find a lot of souvenir shops at the touristic sites, of course where I got some gifts to my parents and for myself (chopsticks, cups, post cards Japanese tea and the most beautiful Japanese iron tea pot).

Tokyo: We spent two full days. Visit the Tokyo Skytree at night, it's a 634 meter high tower from where you have a lovely view over the city. In the day, go up the Metropolitan Government Building (free entrance) from where you can admire the city (and mount Fuji if it's clear weather). I also loved discovering the Ueno park (with a pond and super beautiful cherry trees) and the temples next to it. From there you can walk to the (super crazy) animé-manga area in Akihabara. In this colourful quarter you see people living their lives in those funny outfits. Tokyo Tower (a slimmer but higher Eiffel tower) is the most beautiful at sunset, the Imperial Palace Park has a very beautiful Japanese garden corner and the Shibuya crossing is a must-go. When the cars get red light thousands of people are crossing in all directions at the same time. Next to it you have a huge mall perfect for shopping.

Magome-Tsumago: Two very pretty and picturesque villages up in the Japanese Alps. The villages are very different from each other, so take your time exploring them both. The hike between them takes about three to four hours and it's not a very tough one, just make sure to bring enough water with you. Definitely a must-do if you're in Japan! A daytrip is enough, ending in:

Fukinomori: After the hike ending in Tsumago we got picked up by the shuttle service of Fukinomori, a totally adorable, super relaxing Ryokan (a small Japanese style hotel with hot spring baths), situated totally isolated from the rest of the world up in the mountains. This is a hidden gem and me and my Lieblingsmensch are still dreaming of returning there. The minute we entered there all the stress and other issues that might have preoccupied me disappeared and for once I felt totally relaxed. They take care of everything. You don't even need to bother about what to wear, because they give you those casual kimonos to change into. And they serve you a totally delicious and super interesting 16 (!!) course dinner (so you better do the hiking before, haha) as well as a delicious Japanese breakfast. The staff is totally adorable. And you get to use their spa section, with the onzen baths with hot spring water. It can't get better. I really, really wish that we'll return here one day.

Kanazawa: We spent a day and a half here and at the first sight it doesn't seem so interesting, but it once you've discovered its gems you. The Kanazawa castle is worth a visit as you pass it on your way to THE most beautiful Japanese garden in the country (at least according to us). It's called Kenrokuen garden and its 11,4 hectares is provides you with the most perfect landscape of the garden: spaciousness, tranquility, artifice, antiquity, water cources, and magnificent view from the garden. Kanazawa also has well preserved Samurai and Geisha-quarters that takes you back a few decades ago. You can enter former Geisha and Samurai houses as well.

Kyoto: Three full days were spent discovering Kyoto. With the difficult transport system and big distances between the sites, it is more difficult to get around here. But the city is well worth a visit! Make sure to visitKyoto station at night. From the top floor you can admire the lit-up site for free, and they have this super romantic pavilion on one of the wings. The imperial palace park is a must, an you can enter the site for free. It's super pretty and we took some of our most romantic pictures among the cherry trees and little stream floating through. Wake up early for a stoll at the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (it's a completely different world), and make sure to also walk along the philosopher's path. Around Shinchijo you have lots of shops small and women walking around in kimonos. But the best reason to go here is for a matcha latte at the Ujicha Gion Tsujiri shop. You simply can't afford not to stop here, it's totally delicious. And there is always a long line to order for a reason ;-) The last must-see is Fushimi inari-taisha shrine. Just make sure to bring tons of patience and tolerance with you to this tourist trap, because while the other sites in Japan are having reasonably many visitors, this site is packed. It was not a very enjoyable visit (why don't they have the engraved wisdom words on the orange pillars translated also to English, so that we actually get get inspired?) it is something you would regret to miss out on. If I would had known, I would had visited this site early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

Hiroshima: A peaceful and tranquil place surrounded by greenery. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with a very well presented museum is a sad place of course, depicting and commemorating the victims of the atomic bomb attack. There is also a beautiful castle. A day trip from Kyoto in combination with Migayama is enough.

Migayama: A beautiful island with a cool shrine floating in the water, worth a few hours. Very scenic with wild deers walking around among the tourists. Combine it with a day trip to Hiroshima.

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I'm having a super busy but successful day so far☺️! Including taking the picture of the day, with the new (Portuguese) UN Secretary General Gueterres and my MEP ahead of the extra Conference of Presidents' meeting in the European Parliament 😎 (and trying to ignore that I'm locked into the European Parliament the whole day while it's super sunny and 26 degrees here in Strasbourg☀️)

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Ten years ago I visited Greece. I had just started working at Swedish television and I was uncertain of how my career would develop, so my budget was very limited. I also travelled with a friend who was super nice, but couldn't really cope with the heat. So while I was eager to explore everything Greece had to offer she stayed in the shade totally exhausted. In general the circumstances were not ideal, but still, I totally loved exploring this country and I was happy not to travel alone.

During our island hopping I got captured by the postcard worthy scenes in Mykonos and Santorini with the white houses and blue roofs and crystal clear blue/green water with white sand. And totally fascinated when wandering though the streets of Athens, experiencing the mix of remaining a if Ancient Greece and highly modern life, and by the fresh food of course.

One of the funniest memories of the trip was when bought one of those white Greek inspired toga dresses and visited Acropolis, and funnily enough a bunch of Asian tourists thought I was part of the museum experience and asked for pictures :-)

But with the romantic scenery, particularly the sunset in Santorini, I always wished to one day return and visit it with my Lieblingsmensch (and a more generous budget). And this summer it's going to happen! We postponed the idea of visiting the West Coast of the US (because the flight tickets were super pricy, and to be honest, Europe is the most outstanding continent in summer) and will go for two weeks of island hopping in Greece instead. Starting in Athens and moving on to island hop around the Cyclades. I'm already seeing us strolling through the picturesque streets of Santorini admiring the sunset hand in hand (and for me, in a stunning dress and summery stilettos of course) in the evening before eating a delicious salad where the vegetables actually taste something. 

It will be totally relaxing (which we by then will definitely need after an intense spring) perfect, fun and great.


I'm really excited about it!

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Hello from Strasbourg, where I'm staying until Thursday for the plenary session.

When taking the train this morning I reflected about friendships and how to maintain them when being in different stages in life, and in my case also different parts of the world.

Brussels is one of those places where young professionals stay for a few years and then move - normally back home - to take a new step in their careers or to settle down and start a family. And in the past and upcoming months some of my key friends are leaving Brussels, which of course isn't so much fun for me. But I've also noticed that even when living in the same city, there is less time to seeing friends. Most of us are in relationships, we all work a lot and try to make the everyday life puzzle work, some are starting a family and we all travel frequently. My winning concept to combat the lack of time to catch up is to schedule lunches with those also working in the EP or within "lunching distance" (which means most of them).

At the same time, being in different geographical places or stages in life doesn't necessarily mean the end of a relationship.

A few keys to help maintaining those treasurable friendships even though I might only meet that friend once per month or even a few times per year:

Particularly for those friends I don't get to meet so often, we definitely get to talk about our common history, bringing up those inside jokes and past experiences. It definitely strengthens the bonds of belonging together.

I make sure to use social media like Facebook and Instagram to keep track of each other's lives during the time between your meetings. It's a great way to stay up to date. And with WhatsApp it's not even costly to make a cross-border phone call, which of course isn't a substitute for not meeting in person, but nearly :-)

I don't find it so easy to be spontaneous any longer, (definitely not with friends living abroad). We all have busy agendas, so to make sure to still meet on a regular basis we plan ahead. As boring as it might sound, it's in some cases necessary if the friendship is to survive.

When meeting I always make sure to give my friend my full attention and not get distracted by the phone. I also focus more on talking about what's really going on in my life, it can be struggles, success or future hopes and plans. It's about opening up, being honest and sometimes even vulnerable. Getting a trusted friend's input can often be of great help in reaching further, actually.

For friends who have kids I always make sure to give them priority when planning what to do and where to meet. Because unlike me they also have to take a child into consideration. To be honest, I've lost a few friends when they got children, they somehow isolated themselves. It's their choice though. At the same time I have also managed to stay in touch with many who started a family, and that's great!

As human as it might be to ponder over who is doing better, who is further ahead, I always avoid comparing myself to my friends. Because we all have our choices and paths, and unless you really live in the others head, you never really know what someone is struggling with. So it's better to focus on trying to understand him/her, perhaps give advice, and shape my own life as I want it.

Finally, as some friendships still unfortunately vanish with time there are always new coming in. And that dynamic is fascinating, because the new ones are normally the ones in the same life phase as me, which gives a good basis to bond until another stage comes in :-)


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Those flowers on my living room table are making me really happy every time I pass them! I got them from a friend this weekend (thanks again Tove) and I'll definitely make sure to get some nice new ones when these are out.

I do have lots of orchids, olive trees and even a sunflower in my apartment, which are also adorable, but treating my home with fresh flowers really makes an incredible difference that is yet so easy to forget about.



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Today the EU celebrates Schuman Day, marking the anniversary of the 1950 Schuman Declaration, the EU’s founding document. We in the European Parliament are working, while the other EU institutions are closed, enjoying the sunny weather. But it's ok, it's for to work!.

In case anyone still doubts of why we need the EU, let me remind you what this peace project brings with these simple words: Human rights, civil liberties, including the freedom of speech and religion, free market and a competitive economy based on private property, reasonable and fair redistribution of goods, restrictions on power resulting from rules and tradition, tolerance and political pluralism.

So again, Happy Europe Day dear readers!

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I am truly happy and relieved that Macron is elected to be the next president of France.
The liberal counteraction against populism, nationalism and xenophobia is now finally a fact and everyone who believes in the European union and cooperation between member states in order to solve common challenges, including me, can finally breathe out.

With Macron as France’s president, the European project can now get a real new start with visionary French leadership that, together with Germany and the other member states, can enforce the reforms that the EU needs.

Macron has with his liberal program spread an optimism for the future, which today unfortunately is rare among Western leaders. We should all be inspired by Macron, his successful En Marche movement, that in a year has mobilized thousands of citizens, and his ability to fight populism and nationalism by uniting people. Liberalism in Europe has for a long time been challenged, but now the wind has changed and the election result in Austria, The Netherlands and France, has shown that more liberalism is the key to create a successful future for each and every citizen.

The EU has the resources, well-educated citizens, creativity and plurality. Together we can meet the challenges of tomorrow in a globalized world. We must dare to believe in the possibilities the future holds.

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I'm back after two intense hours at Aspria. Bodyvive is so much fun and leaves me totally filled with new energy while being physically exhausted at the same time and the following core class is great for office rats like me.

But the question after such a successful session is: how to refuel after a workout? The answer is quite simple: It depends on whether I am traveling, heading to the office or home, what I have in the fridge, and what I feel like eating. But no matter where I am I always try to have a fruit ready to eat directly after the workout, in order to not be completely faint and out of energy afterwards (and then eat as soon as I get some/to the office or wherever I am.)

Feeding my body with healthy nutrition after a heavy workout (and most of my workouts are!) is crucial to help it repair, rebuild, recover and adapt.

I am definitely not a fan of different over-priced, sugar bombed and chemical protein shakes/bars etc. Most people do get enough energy through normal fresh food. Actually, my body always feel "clean " after a workout, so the last thing I want to refuel it with is sugary or industrialised food. So when refueling I instead get hold of yoghurts, beans, eggs, meat/fish/chicken, feta cheese, as well as some slow carbs - let it be full grain bread, müesli, pasta, potatoes, a quiche etc, plus vegetables. The more different colours the better. I tend to eat quite a lot afterwards, while still paying attention so that I don't eat more than the engery I used.

A good rule, no matter what you prefer to eat is to get something instantly after having finished the workout (no longer than 30 minutes afterwards, and then have a proper balanced meal after 1-1,5 hours.

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It's still a bit more than four months until I'm turning 30, but since I am having so many guests coming from abroad (half of them actually, which says something about my world wide spread friends and family) I had to be early with the preparations and invitations. And it's good, because it's so much to plan still, like putting together a playlist for the mingling part plus dancing parts, deciding how my hair should be done, picking jewelry and colours of makeup, deciding the flavours of my birthday cakes... And trying to learn some waltz steps with my Lieblingsmensch, do that we don't get totally embarassed when everyone is dancing the opening dance. If I ever get married, I already had a rehearsal when it comes to organising a formal party!

The venue of the reception is set (it's going to be a beautiful princess style hall designed to elegance with high ceilings, chandeliers and big mirrows and windows, giving place for a ball à la Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast).

The dress is ordered and manifactured right now! I will get the final pictures of it in mid May (super excited about it!) before they send it. 

I have found the perfect hairdresser, who truly understands my princess style and my somewhat troublesome hair. And it's actually a man! I always had a somewhat conservative, twisted idea that female hairdressers could better meet my ideas. But after two failed visits (at female hair dressers) I finally found the right one (man) for the task.

The whole idea of having a princess style birthday party started with the dress. Like many of us, I dream myself away at Pinterest, the world catalogue of ideas. I spy on everything from beautiful dresses to hair dues, healthy meals and workouts. It is very inspirational! And one day the dress was there and I just knew it my MY dress. But when would I wear such a creation without looking out of this world? The answer was very quickly: On my 30th birthday. Which of course meant that I couldn*t just have any venue, but a princess venue, with everything that comes with it :-)

And yes, the whole celebration is going to cost much more than I could imagine when starting planning it, but it will be worth every cent. I will have my family gathered, which doesn't happen so often, plus the friends who means the most to me. It will be a magical evening!

I am still looking for a possible photographer. Should any of you have a good Brussels based one in mind, please let me know!

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